Joint Economic Forecast
Joint Economic Forecast The joint economic forecast is an instrument for evaluating...
IWH FDI Micro Database
IWH FDI Micro Database The IWH FDI Micro Database (FDI = Foreign Direct...
The maths behind gut decisions First carefully weigh up the costs and benefits and then make a rational...
Trading away Incentives
IWH Discussion Papers,
Equity pay has been the primary component of managerial compensation packages at US public firms since the early 1990s. Using a comprehensive sample of top executives from 1992-2020, we estimate to what extent they trade firm equity held in their portfolios to neutralize increments in ownership due to annual equity pay. Executives accommodate ownership increases linked to options awards. Conversely, increases in stock holdings linked to option exercises and restricted stock grants are largely neutralized through comparable sales of unrestricted shares. Variation in stock trading responses across executives hardly appears to respond to diversification motives. From a theoretical standpoint, these results challenge (i) the common, generally implicit assumption that managers cannot undo their incentive packages, (ii) the standard modeling practice of treating different equity pay items homogeneously, and (iii) the often taken for granted crucial role of diversification motives in managers’ portfolio choices.
Executive Equity Risk-Taking Incentives and Firms’ Choice of Debt Structure
Journal of Banking and Finance,
We examine how executive equity risk-taking incentives affect firms’ choice of debt structure. Using a longitudinal sample of U.S. firms, we document that when executive compensation is more sensitive to stock volatility (i.e., has higher vega), firms reduce their reliance on bank debt financing. We utilize the passage of the Financial Accounting Standard (FAS) 123R option-expensing regulation as an exogenous shock to management option compensation to account for potential endogeneity. In cross-sectional analyses, we find that the documented effect of vega is amplified among firms with higher growth opportunities and more opaque financial information; we also find vega's effect is mitigated in firms with limited abilities to tap into public debt market. Supplemental analyses suggest that firms with higher vega face more stringent bank loan covenants. We conclude that, by encouraging risk-taking, higher vega reduces firms’ reliance on bank debt financing in order to avoid more stringent bank monitoring.
Executive Compensation, Macroeconomic Conditions, and Cash Flow Cyclicality
Finance Research Letters,
I model the joint effects of debt, macroeconomic conditions, and cash flow cyclicality on risk-shifting behavior and managerial wealth-for-performance sensitivity. The model shows that risk-shifting incentives rise during recessions and that the shareholders can eliminate such adverse incentives by reducing the equity-based compensation in managerial contracts. Moreover, this reduction should be larger in highly procyclical firms. These novel, testable predictions provide insights into optimal shareholder responses to agency costs of debt throughout the business cycle.
CEO Investment of Deferred Compensation Plans and Firm Performance
Journal of Business Finance and Accounting,
We study how US chief executive officers (CEOs) invest their deferred compensation plans depending on the firm's profitability. By looking at the correlation between the CEO's return on these plans and the firm's stock return, we show that deferred compensation is to a large extent invested in the company equity in good times and divested from it in bad times. The divestment from company equity in bad times arguably reflects CEOs' incentive to abandon the firm and to invest in alternative instruments to preserve the value of their deferred compensation plans. This result suggests that the incentive alignment effects of deferred compensation crucially depend on the firm's health status.
Motivating High‐impact Innovation: Evidence from Managerial Compensation Contracts
Financial Markets, Institutions and Instruments,
We investigate the relationship between Chief Executive Officer (CEO) compensation and firm innovation and find that long‐term incentives in the form of options, especially unvested options, and protection from managerial termination in the form of golden parachutes are positively related to corporate innovation, and particularly to high‐impact, exploratory (new knowledge creation) invention. Conversely, non‐equity pay has a detrimental effect on the input, output and impact of innovation. Tests using the passage of an option expensing regulation (FAS 123R) as an exogenous shock to option compensation suggest a causal interpretation for the link between long‐term pay incentives, patents and citations. Furthermore, we find that the decline in option pay following the implementation of FAS 123R has led to a significant reduction in exploratory innovation and therefore had a detrimental effect on innovation output. Overall, our findings support the idea that compensation contracts that protect from early project failure and incentivize long‐term commitment are more suitable for inducing high‐impact corporate innovation.
01.04.2019 • 8/2019
Bank profitability increases after eliminating consolidation barriers
When two banks merge because political consolidation barriers are abolished, the combined entity is considerably more profitable and useful to the real economy. This is the headline result of an analysis of compulsory savings banks mergers carried out by the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH). The study yields important insights for the German and the European banking market.
Read press release
Direct and Indirect Risk-taking Incentives of Inside Debt
Journal of Corporate Finance,
We develop a model of compensation structure and asset risk choice, where a risk-averse manager is compensated with salary, equity and inside debt. We seek to understand the joint implications of this compensation package for managerial risk-taking incentives and credit spreads. We show that the size and seniority of inside debt not only are crucial for the relation between inside debt and credit spreads but also play an important role in shaping the relation between equity compensation and credit spreads. Using a sample of U.S. public firms with traded credit default swap contracts, we provide evidence supportive of the model's predictions.